Latest Blog Posts

by Kris Ligman

15 Feb 2011

There’s something about game boxes that makes them fascinating as objects.

I’ve habitually held onto all my console boxes since childhood, in part because my family were frequent movers, but also largely because I was fixated on their uniqueness and their role as signifiers. As a kid, there was something almost religious about them, as though they’d literally given birth to the fat collection of plastic and computer chips sitting underneath my TV. The fact that game devices were most typically a Christmas gift only enhanced the quasi-Catholicism with which these boxes were silently revered.

Maybe I’m just weird.

Nevertheless, gamer culture is indeed marked by a sort of box fixation. On the one hand, it relates to collectorship—boxes connote not just protection but also completion, which is the main reason that two equally unblemished discs will go for different prices on eBay. On the other hand, they also act as indexes to what the machine or software is as well as what it can potentially be in the user’s hands.

by Aaron Poppleton

15 Feb 2011

Ah, the ‘80s.  That magical time when men did lots of cocaine and women wore those suits with really big shoulder pads.  This was the time of the stock trader, and it is this time that the simple browser based game American Dream seeks to take the player back to.  It has a simple enough goal: become a millionaire by playing the stock market.

by Nick Dinicola

11 Feb 2011

The vocabulary we use to talk about horror games is inherently problematic because a single subgenre has become synonymous with the genre as a whole. “Survival horror” is widely seen as a synonym for “horror” in general, but the truth is that “survival horror” when used in this context is a very specific kind of horror game that really only existed in a very specific era of gaming.

There’s a lot of nostalgic baggage attached to the term “survival horror”. The two words speak to a distinct type of gameplay and atmosphere: tank controls, weak characters, poor combat, inventory management, fixed camera angels, obtuse puzzles, limited ammo, lots of loading screens, lots of running, journals that fill out the backstory, etc. This type of game was popular on the Playstation and Playstation 2 and was also the only kind of horror game that was readily accessible in mass market gaming. Since there were no alternatives, it was only natural to assume that survival horror was the only sort of horror game, and over time, this kind of thinking became entrenched in the fans of the genre.

by Scott Juster

10 Feb 2011

Subject Sigma and a Little Sister in Minerva's Den, Creasy (Denzel Washington) and Pita (Dakota Fanning) in Man on Fire, Uncle Tom and Little Eva (Edwin Longsden Long, 1866)

BioShock 2 and its side story, Minerva’s Den, do much to expand Rapture’s universe.  In addition to new technology and physical locations, they take the story into new cultural territory.  Grace Holloway and Charles Milton Porter stand out as both the first major black characters in the BioShock universe.  However, the two characters each have unique, multifaceted lives that prevent them from being cast as the token black people in a game dominated by white characters.  At the same time, their racial identity informs their lives and connects them to wider historical events and cultural themes in African American history.

by G. Christopher Williams

9 Feb 2011

Issac Clarke may be the second most recognizable working class hero in video games.  The obviously more iconic plumber and savior of princesses, Mario, comfortably garbed in overalls while cleaning pipes overrun by mushrooms and turtles would, of course, be the most recognizable.  Intriguingly, though, and largely unlike Mario, Isaac is not a working man transformed into a fantastical hero.  Instead, Dead Space is a game that finds heroism in doing real work.

//Mixed media

'Assassin's Creed': The Comic Book

// Moving Pixels

"How does one establish an entry point into a complex mythos developed through the plots of more than a half dozen very popular video games in only about 20 pages? Not very well.

READ the article